food tourists in the big apple.


this article in the nytimes dining section today spells out exactly what i find scary about cooking and eating in new york.

it’s that cooking things in the time-honored way with full respect for fresh, local ingredients gets likened to marie antoinette playing shepherdess in the gardens at versailles. and i can understand precisely this attitude, even though it totally chaps my ass to read it in the local paper.

one of the things i’ll miss most about italy when i return to the states is how easy it’s been to cook for myself twice a day, every day. and yes, it’s both the fact that i don’t have any access to pop culture or commerce after 7pm (the commerce, not the pop culture; the latter is a 24-7 kind of lack) and that i like taking the long, pain-in-the-ass route for just about everything i do, but it doesn’t seem particularly problematic or ridiculous for me to devote maybe three hours of my day to feeding myself.

“frivolous” is what gets me: what’s wrong with us that we have turned cooking into entertainment, drudgery, a mere hobby or playtime for the bourgeois? maybe i’m reading too much into this or maybe i’m out of touch with the reality of the way most of us live today, but i just don’t know how to make all this square in my head. or how it will square once i move back.

and it’s this same attitude that extends to eating, this sort of keeping-up-with-the-joneses-in-the-loft-next-door sort of mindset, where making some elaborate “peasant” dish is another thing to check off that list of things that make you cooler, more cultured than what’s-his-face jones, and going to l’atelier de joël robuchon is another thing to check off.

okay, getting off my high horse now.

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3 Responses to “food tourists in the big apple.”


  1. 1 fwc September 6, 2006 at 11:41 am

    i know what you mean about food tourists, but i think you can’t really blame people for what was a priority shift due to advances in technology. nowadays you can choose if you want to cook, clean, make your own clothes, etc. or instead fill your time w/ recreational “entertainment”. it seems the requirements for living (e.g. cooking) in the previous generations are looked at now as burdens lifted. which in the case of food is unfortunate. the next step we have to look forward to i suppose is for people to not have to eat at all and get all their sustenance from a small daily pill and not have to waste 1/3 of their day sleeping. of course we’d be horrified at the loss, but the majority is bound to relish the ability to spend more time watching TV.

  2. 2 foo September 6, 2006 at 2:04 pm

    I think this is about something between the act and the thought. Something very much like semantics. But perhaps I just mean attitude. Some people like to dress up their ordinary things in fancy trappings. It’s disingenuous, really — “oh, look at me, i’m just doing something sooooo ordinary. it took me soooooooo long to learn how to do it. oh i don’t know why you think i’m so fancy, it’s just plain old ordinary.”

    And the whole tarte tatin bit? Jesus christ.

  3. 3 the chocolate lady September 11, 2006 at 12:06 am

    You are so right, Winnie,

    I am enduring some severe assal chapification myself.
    I would add that once you are here, poeple are cooking great food all the time and you will love it, especially now when the peppers and eggplants are glistening in the sun. You can get a bit of a foreshortened view of our town just from the papers. You know?


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